The official start of fall is this Thursday, Sept. 21st. The change of seasons from Summer into Autumn has me thinking about the collective shift in schedules and routines we experience this time of year and how that influences the ways we move in our yoga practice. With more things to multitask than ever before we can feel compelled to rush, to push, to maximize effort so we get the most out of the one hour we've carved out of our day or week when we make it to our yoga mat. Somewhere along the way the pace has quickened in yoga land, but thankfully teachers like Jason Crandell and J. Brown make up a growing minority of teachers leading the way back to unrushed vinyasa yoga and I am here to praise it!
In a world that is constantly moving us on to the next new thing it is a breath of fresh air to find out that we can come to our yoga mat and not have to move so fast in vinyasa yoga. That there can still be power in your yoga without rushing.
If yoga is your main way of moving your body and you want to be stronger, move slower. Be there, bee in it, because SLOWER IS STRONGER. Say it again for the folks in the back! One of my favorite yoga poses to demonstrate this concept is, bird-dog pose. When done incredibly slow and controlled this dynamic movement is far more challenging than sailing through it quickly. Give this a try:
- Begin in tabletop position. All fours.
- Lift and extend your right leg behind you while you lift and extend your left arm in front of you.
- Be incredibly long from fingertips through to your back foot. Keep your hips square.
- Draw your knee and your elbow in towards your center rounding in towards your belly.
- Slowly extend everything back out.
- Do this a few times on each side as slowly as you can.
- The more controlled the movement, the more you own the movement.
Did one side feel easier, smoother, more stable than the other? Did you feel the urge to speed up so you didn't wobble? Consider other places in your practice where you can move slower and more mindfully. What do you rush through? Where do you rely on momentum when you do yoga?
I guess what I'm saying is, you can get more out of your yoga practice by doing less. Leave a little space in your yoga practice to notice the experience, not just the accomplishment of the pose. Whatever it is that brings you to your mat, there's an inherent aspect of being present in the moment. I'm adding to that by saying, BE IN THE MOVEMENT! As with everything in life the newness of yoga wears off and when that happens your yoga practice can become so much more than what first brought you to your mat. It's with time and practice that you begin to notice the in-between moments, the subtleties of body, mind and breath all together involved, and you observe that from one yoga pose to the next. This is where I believe the sweetness of being in your body is best witnessed.